Hustle culture is like a syndrome. You know what I mean. You don't have to think hard to remember a poster, subway ad, or Instagram page that you read and instantly knew went overboard.
When we see hustle porn, even if we relate, something in the tone and execution should give us pause. The hustle and grind can create beautiful things but are they beautiful in and of themselves?
"Hustle porn is one of the most toxic, dangerous things in the tech industry right now. And I know so much of it comes from the States. It is this idea that unless you are suffering, unless you are grinding, unless you are working every hour of every day and posting about it on Instagram, you're not working hard enough. It's such bullsh*t, such utter bullsh*t."
- Alexis Ohanian
Hustle culture elevates the act of working to a place of significance – worship even–that it was never meant to hold. It's drunk on a linear relationship between effort and results that simply isn't real. Even more troubling, it supplants the reason why we work with work itself.
I am a serial hustler. I've been busy since before being busy all the time was cool. Sometime after working myself deathly ill for the second time in two years, it stopped being cool to me. I literally became sick to my stomach of the very organizations and causes that I so readily signed my life over to.
This past community group cycle I joined a group about rest. Rest as in the big picture of what it means to have set times of stillness, recovery, and reflection. As we worked through Mark Buchanan's The Rest of God I came across a section that helped me understand what I've been feeling about the places I've spent so much of my time and energy investing in.
Drivenness may awaken or be a catalyst for purpose, but it rarely fulfills it, more often it jettisons it.
A common characteristic of driven people is that, at some point, they forget the purpose. They lose the point. The very reason they began something— embarked on a journey, undertook a project, waged a war, entered a profession, married a girl—erodes under the weight of their striving. Their original inspiration may be noble. But driven too hard, it gets supplanted by greed for more, or dread of setback, or force of habit.
Buchanan finishes the thought with the sentence:
Drivenness erodes purposefulness.
It's hard to hear but
- You can work your whole life, and put in your best effort, and not see the results you desire.
- If we're driven to hustle out of fear, or habit, we're just hustling for hustle's sake.
- Your purpose or reason why should be your motivation. But keep in mind that purpose alone can't fulfill you.
Our lives can and should be full, of purpose, people, and experiences. Hustle culture turns these beautiful things into a bucket list item to be checked off and trophies to be displayed in the pursuit of more. No accomplishment is ever enough.
As we dream and create as young professionals we owe it to ourselves to commit to healthy rhythms of rest. It is tempting and for a moment, popular, to toil away at life, but it isn't good. It actually will keep us and everyone around us from the good that we hope to create.